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SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
"Solo or The 120 Hands of Sabacc."
3 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "The arrival of “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” the latest entry in the long-running and highly lucrative film franchise and the second spin-off film to come out that is not a part of the currently unfolding trilogy, is an event that even the most dedicated members of its devoted fanbase may regard with more than a little suspicion. For one thing, while moviegoers used to have to wait three years or so between the films, this marks the fourth “Star Wars” property to hit screens since 2015, leading to the very distinct possibility that most audiences may be getting to the point where they need a bit of a break from them. More significantly, this was a film with a number of well-publicized production problems that culminated with the original directing team of Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, hot off of “The Lego Movie,” being fired with reportedly less than three weeks until the completion of principal photography amidst rumors of clashes between them and the producers and the suggestion that star Alden Ehrenreich required acting lessons. Granted, recent “Star Wars” productions have not always run smoothly—“Rogue One” underwent extensive reshoots and the original directors for a planned Boba Fest spinoff and “Episode IX,” Josh Trank and Colin Trevorrow were both sacked before they even got near the cameras—but to can the directors that late in the process suggested a production that was in serious trouble and the hiring of Ron Howard to come in and take over (reportedly reshooting between 70-80% of the film, depending on who is telling the tale) further indicated that the producers were now less concerned with doing something a little off-beat (which was presumably the idea behind the hiring of Lord & Miller in the first place) and more interested in simply getting the damn thing done in the quickest and most painless manner possible (which would explain the hiring of Howard, a good director when blessed with good material but not exactly the most daring or innovative member of the DGA). The fact that the film would make an extremely high-profile debut at the Cannes Film Festival suggested at least some degree of confidence in it but my guess is that most will approach it with a level of trepidation not seen since “Attack of the Clones” arrived in the wake of the thunderously underwhelming “The Phantom Menace.”" (more)
GREAT SILENCE, THE
"No good guy with a gun."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Sergio Corbucci's "The Great Silence" is making the rounds right now, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary with a new digital restoration, and despite its age and period setting, it feels especially incisive and contemporary in 2018. Truth be told, it probably never seemed anything else, but it never hurts to rediscover just how incisive this sort of western can be." (more)
DEADPOOL 2
"Meets comic superhero x-pectations."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "It's tough to do "Deadpool" twice; the first was a well-needed go at taking the piss out of Marvel's ubiquity and how seriously some fans take corporate shared universes, but the second can't help but build up its own continuity even as it spends the credits shredding the very idea. Plus, Marvel has done "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Spider-Man: Homecoming" in the last year, closing a little ground, which means "Deadpool 2" has to go farther to try and get the same results - although, isn't that the case with most sequels?" (more)
DEADPOOL 2
"Another unrepentant middle finger to Superhero seriousness"
4 stars
Greg Ursic says... "After languishing in development hell for the better part of a decade, Deadpool finally got the green light after test footage for the project was “accidentally” leaked and fanboys went crazy. The wise cracking Merc with a Mouth delivered on every level: an unconventional love story, gory deaths galore, a barrage of smart ass one-liners, a measure of redemption for Ryan Reynolds and the best ever box office for an R-rated flick, guaranteeing a sequel, if not a franchise. Prepare not to be disappointed." (more)
CRIME + PUNISHMENT
"Watching the watchmen."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2018: At times "Crime + Punishment" feels like two related documentaries superglued together, as director Stephen Maing tells the stories of a dozen NYPD officers suing the department over an illegal quota system alongside that of a teenager held for a year before trial as a result of such a system. It makes for a somewhat crowded movie, but a compelling one, especially as one half of the story, at least, can have some resolution." (more)
BLACK PANTHER
"Pretty darned good for a Marvel movie."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "The entire bloated, interlinked, resource-eating Marvel Cinematic Universe may have justified itself by having made possible 'Black Panther.'" (more)
EIGHTH GRADE
"As full of potential but stuck in-between as any middle-schooler."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2018: There has got to be a way of portraying awkwardness and uncertainty aside from dragging it out, and that "Eighth Grade" doesn't find it is kind of a bummer, because the are only a few scenes in the movie that don't feel like they are five times longer than they need to be. There are some terrific moments in this movie, and maybe one has to be a bit ground down to appreciate them, but it's entirely possible that I wouldn't get to the good parts of this movie in my living room as opposed to in a crowded theater." (more)
REVENGE (2018)
"Hell hath no fury like a woman pushed too far"
4 stars
Greg Ursic says... "As blonde bombshell Jen (Matilda Lutz) steps out of the helicopter sucking on a lollipop, we see her lingering reflection in muscled boyfriend Richard’s (Kevin Janssens) sunglasses, which leaves little doubt as to the nature of their trip. Their dirty weekend in the desert is interrupted by phone calls from his wife worried about catering and more ominously, the early arrival of his hunting buddies. Men being the entitled idiots they often are, playful flirtation results in bruised egos leading to rape and attempted murder." (more)
RACER AND THE JAILBIRD
"Decent crime, decent romance, decent movie."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Director Michaël R. Roskam and actor Matthias Schoenaerts made a heck of an impression with "Bullhead", enough that the pair returning to Belgium after making the pretty-good "The Drop" in America is at least worthy of some attention. "Racer and the Jailbird" is not the gritty-but-exciting seventies throwback that its English-language title might suggest; French title "Le Fidèle" is closer to what Roskam and his collaborators are going for. Either way, it's not quite the movie it could have been, though the cast makes it worth a look." (more)
BEAST (2018)
"A dark romance that never quite gets dark enough."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2018: "Beast" is the sort of movie that figures it can let a serial killer running loose in the community sort of simmer in the background, confident that the psychological drama it's got running up front is more interesting. That's true enough for a while, as the audience gets to know its young woman with an overbearing family and her own dark side, but eventually it's got to start pulling things together, and it's all too clear that neither the crime wave nor boyfriend Pascal is nearly as interesting as Moll is." (more)

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